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2016 Basketball Recruiting Update: News on McEwen, Bolden, Hall and More

Find out everything you need to know about the last few weeks of Wake Forest basketball recruiting news.

Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be honest, it’s been an uncomfortably anxious couple of weeks for Wake Forest fans on the 2016 recruiting trail lately. After 4* SG target Eli Wright committed to Mississippi State a few weeks ago and didn’t even mention the Deacs as a final contender for his signature despite what many fans and people in the industry believed, a soft yet humbling wave of panic began to permeate the fan base. But you didn't come here for me to add to that anxiety. You came here for answers. So who is available and what are our chances with these recruits? Find out everything you need to know in this week’s edition of BSD Recruit Report.

Josh Hall Decommits from Rice

A new name has found itself as a part of my 2016 basketball big board, and it comes in the form of 4* wing target Josh Hall. If the name sounds vaguely familiar it is because Hall was one of the Deacs’ top SG/SF targets in 2014 for this cycle before committing to Rice just a week after taking an unofficial visit to Winston-Salem last October. He plays his high school ball for Genesis Academy in Virginia and 247sports has him as the #110 player in the country and a 4* prospect. His offer list is also impressive with Arizona, Texas, UNLV, Kansas State, and SMU all joining Wake Forest as programs who have extended a scholarship to the talented wing. Let me anticipate your ensuing question of “Why Rice?” and say Hall is originally from Houston despite the fact he plays HS ball in Virginia, and the hometown connection undoubtedly played a massive role in his original commitment to the Owls. But now with him re-opening his recruiting process I would expect Danny Manning and the staff to be all-over the possibility of reaching out to Hall and hopefully landing one of his official visits. His skill-set coincides perfectly with the type of player Manning likes to have on his roster (Smooth, playmaking wing with range from 3) and I think there would be a really solid chance for him to contribute day 1 at WF if he chooses to play his college ball here. Have a look at his highlight tape below and confirm it for yourself: Josh Hall would be a great addition to this class and program.

Wake Makes Marques Bolden’s Final 7

This news came as a nice surprise last week when 5* 2016 C Marques Bolden took an unofficial visit to campus before declaring Wake as one of his top 7 schools on his list. Previously I had labeled Bolden in the Azubuike, Huell, Kegler category of top 40 players who Manning offered long ago but we’re not really interested in attending WF to play their college ball. The unofficial visit and trimmed down list indicates otherwise, however, and proves that Danny Manning continues to be able to sell his development and individual success to blue chip big man prospects in the recruiting game. Bolden becomes the 3rd 5* 2016 PF/C in the last few months to keep Wake in consideration in his final list, but the first from outside the NC area and with no local connection unlike Adebayo and Giles. The favorites right now seem to be Duke and Kansas (Split 65%-35% on Crystal Ball at the moment), though its unclear if there will even be a spot for him at Duke with the program still favorites for Harry Giles/Wenyen Gabriel, and Javin DeLaurier scheduling an official visit this week as well. The easy guess would then be Kansas or Kentucky, but joining Avery Johnson’s up-and-coming program at Alabama is also a likely option (5* Texas Native Terrance Ferguson is already committed to the Tide as well). So do I think Wake will end up as the future home of Bolden? Not without some much-needed momentum in the meantime. If Bolden wants to go to a “Blue Blood” program he has those options available (Nearby Kansas or Calipari’s Kentucky are highly interested), and if he would rather do something different, Alabama or Oklahoma are likely far more attractive options given their proximity to home and the fact both their 2016 classes are already well-endowed with top 50 talent. Now if Giles and Smith both hop on-board for the Deacs Bolden might be a little more intrigued by the offer, but scholarship number complications and the fact that Adebayo would likely be far easier to convince anyway still put this as a longshot. But hey, when a 5* prospect lists you in his final 7 there is always publicity that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. So even if we are #7 on that list, the fact we are even in this conversation is a somewhat satisfying feat.

New Rivals Rankings has recently updated their 2016 Top 150 and as expected there are a number of Wake Forest targets on the list. Here is where they rank and their coinciding star next to their number.

2016 Targets

5* Harry Giles- #2

5* Dennis Smith- #4

5* Edrice Adebayo- $7

5* Marques Bolden- #16

4* Zach Norvell- #94

4* Josh Hall- #102

4* Koby McEwen- #104

3* Jalen Johnson- #140

3* Bruno Fernando- #142

3* Donovan Mitchell- #148

Other Names You Know:

4* Javin DeLaurier #42

4* Eli Wright #95

4* Rodney Miller #115

3* Kwe Parker Unranked

3* Brandon Childress Unranked

3* Richard Washington Unranked

Harry Froling- No profile

Notes on the Rankings:

-The top of the list is as you should have expected given the last couple months. Giles and Josh Jackson have been flip-flopping at the #1 spot on scouting sites for the better part of two years and seeing him at #2 is no real shock if you’ve been following the rankings closely. Smith, Adebayo, and Bolden haven’t moved much at all and remain 5* talents in Rivals’ eyes.

-Yes, I know there is a massive gap in the list above. No, I did not miss out on including anyone or type someone’s ranking in wrong. It’s almost bizarre the way the 2016 recruiting cycle has turned out for Wake Forest given that the program is in contention for a number of Blue Chip prospects, and then not really in contention for any 4*’s in the 20-100 range. You could do a lot of searching on scouting sites over the last few years and probably wouldn’t be able to find another program that is on the final list for 4 5* players, and yet otherwise is down to exclusively 3* targets with a few exceptions. This is attributed to a number of things that has happened over the last couple months that didn’t really go the Deacs’ way. Firstly, Wake was in prime position to land a top 50 overall SG in the spring only to end up not even scheduling an official visit with the prospect. That SG would be Kwe Parker, and if you noticed, he isn’t included in the Top 150 for the first time since the list came out for this class. Brandon Childress last fall was also inside the top 100 on some sites and would’ve helped fill this gap, but dropped out of it during a winter update to about where he is right now (230-250 range). Those guys falling as well as other targets having meteoric rises into the 40-70 range and gaining interest from prestigious other HM programs (DeLaurier, McGusty etc) has created this gap that seems pretty alarming at first. Fortunately, it is widely presumed that scouting sites do a pretty decent job at picking the top 25 players for each class, and a pretty average job assessing guys 26-125, so landing a guy ranked 102 or 104 instead of a guy in the 50’s or 60’s probably doesn’t make much of a difference in the long run.

-Bruno Fernando at 142 I think is the most interesting ranking of them all. His ceiling is almost as high as anyone on the entire list, but his recent arrival to the AAU scene has hindered scouts’ ability to see much of him and kept him in a “Diamond in the Rough” place on the list. I would love to see Manning have the chance to coach Fernando into a dominant force down low for years to come and I would be thrilled if we could land an official visit with the Montverde C in the upcoming months.

Koby McEwen takes an official visit to Utah State, Schedules Two Others:

I have to say it was a little disappointing last week when the weekend concluded without Koby McEwen as the 3rd member of the 2016 class. Danny Manning clearly had some tricks up his sleeve to try and make the Canadian 4* PG as comfortable as possible during his official visit, including bringing back Deacon legends Chris Paul and Tim Duncan to hang out with him and the current team for multiple days. However, McEwen simply was not ready to give his verbal commitment just yet to a particular school and is now fresh off a visit to Utah State, which is located near his current high school Wasatch Academy. He also has two other official visits scheduled: Texas Tech on September 14 and Georgia Tech from October 2-4, which was first reported by Deacons Illustrated’s own Les Johns. Johns also helped report that Miami and Xavier are the two schools that McEwen will decide between for the 5th and final official visit later this fall. McEwen’s decision to take all five of his official visits and let the process play out is certainly a respectable and wise one for his own purposes. The decommitment epidemic in college basketball has gotten more than just a little out of hand over these last couple of years, with recruits taking one OV and often committing on the spot only to realize they wish they had seen other campuses and schools during their process. While we all wish Koby would declare himself a Deac today and get hyped up for the 2016-2017 season, analyzing all his options and making the best choice for him after careful consideration is the smart move for him and his family. You could also say that if he feels like Wake Forest is the school for him after taking four more official visits and time with his decision, all fans would feel even more confident that his commitment to the program would hold true all the way through National Signing Day. I still feel good about our chances with Koby and wish him nothing but the best on the rest of his visits. This is a good time to remind everyone that at this point last year, Wake wasn’t considered to be a contender for any of the 4* recruits that ended up committing to the program in the 2015 class. We remain in a very good position to land McEwen and a couple of other very talented players in the 2016 class, it might just take a little longer than we all expected or hoped.

Wake Forest Offers 3* F Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell is a name that has been floated around the Wake Forest recruiting fan community the last couple of months ever since the Deacs were listed as “Warm” on his 247sports profile over the summer out of nowhere. Coach Danny Manning officially offered the 6’8 PF from California over the weekend joining Arizona State, Fresno State, Nevada, and Washington State as some of the teams to extend a scholarship. However, Mitchell has reportedly received interest from Arizona, Cal, and Providence as well throughout his recruiting process and also listed Maryland in his final six that he announced just last week. Rivals listed him as #148 in their latest updated rankings, putting him just a few spots below fellow 2016 targets PF Bruno Fernando and SF Jalen Johnson. 247sports has him as the 235th best player and the 56th best PF in the class, but he mentioned in an interview with last year that he sees himself playing the 2 or the 3 at the college level instead. Perhaps he has changed his mind and is looking to play PF in college, which correlates with his rankings, or maybe Danny Manning is recruiting him to play as a SF, which the 2016 class currently could use as well. I would say Maryland is the favorite right now if there is a spot open for him, but there is still plenty of time to convince him otherwise given he has set mid-November as his current commit date. As the child of two former pro athletes the athleticism is certainly there and his versatility to play three positions could come in very handy at the next level. It will be interesting to see if he ultimately schedules a visit to campus in the next couple of weeks and checks out what great things Wake Forest has to offer for his college career.

As always, here is an updated 2016 basketball big board with the new additions (Blue), recently removed recruits (Red), and top targets (Bold). As names continue to be removed, the pressure to land one of the stars at the top of the list grows exponentially. This class has homerun potential, but a lot hinges on the decision of the Hometown Hero.

For more frequent and daily Wake Forest recruiting news, follow me on Twitter @DeacFan3.